Traveling with kids is a whole different experience from traveling with adults. While the sights may be the same, the experience is completely changed. Rather than obsessing about catching every attraction or packing every toy, use these helpful tips for a fun family getaway:
For jet-setting parents, five cities in two weeks may sound like a breeze, but little legs sure can get tired bouncing from city to city. Children get overwhelmed and stressed out by constant travel and activities. They need restful periods to adjust to new experiences and ready themselves for more. When traveling for a week or more, plan at least one day as a ‘lay-low day’ where kids can take a step back and relax during vacation. If traveling for less time, ensure that your schedule isn’t overwhelming. If children regularly take a nap at a certain time or watch a certain show, keep that in your vacation schedule.
Take Only What You Need
Whether you’ve planned months in advance or are throwing together suitcases the night before, lugging down the family with overweight baggage is a rookie mistake when it comes to traveling with children. Not only are airlines cracking down on large bags but the added bulk can interfere with enjoying your time away from home by adding stress to transporting your family. Ideally, vacation suitcases and backpacks should be able to be maneuvered without additional help. Paring down on unnecessary items saves money, saves time, and cuts down on stress. If you can rent, buy or borrow items at your destination location, all the better.
While parents always have a safety plan at home, many families neglect to make one during their adventures. Designate a “meeting spot” in each location you visit so that if someone is separated from the family, everyone knows where to meet up. Children who are old enough to ask for help should know which hotel your family is staying at and how to contact you in case of an emergency.
Reviewing and understanding local customs and laws is also important for a successful, stress-free vacation. For example, families visiting England should discuss crossing the road, ensuring that everyone in the family realizes that oncoming traffic will be coming from the left rather than the right. When visiting foreign countries, also go over basic vocabulary like “help” and “police”. Arm your family with knowledge to make your vacation safe.
Particularly in hot climates, children are much more prone to dehydration than adults. Before leaving to explore a new city for the day or leaving home on a long car ride, be sure to pack ample water and juices for children. Ensure that they are regularly sipping drinks and need to use the restroom regularly. Dehydration can result in lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea and hospitalization may be required to combat it. Don’t wait until the kids are thirsty. Plan ahead and keep the kids hydrated for your entire trip.
Leave Time for Exploration
While most adults can get wrapped up in getting from one attraction to the next, kids are more interested in the journey. A new park or a fun event may grab their attention along the way. Leave lots of time in your schedule to make side trips and quick stops. Rather than planning each second of the trip, try to limit your days to one or two major sights and leave the rest open to whatever catches you or your children’s eyes.
Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a stressful situation. By planning ahead, packing for success, and leaving time to truly enjoy your vacation destination, your family can have a fun, stress-free time away from home.
With over 20 years of experience in the nanny world as an award-winning nanny, agency director, and parenting author, Michelle LaRowe is considered a leading industry expert. A mom herself, she loves to educate parents and nannies on the importance of quality in-home childcare. Find out more by visiting @eNannySource on Twitter.